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You are invited to Knowledgelab 4, a weekend-long open gathering for those who want to think, talk and explore. The topic this time round is 'How do we know?', which will be investigated through practical workshops and discussions. It will be held over the weekend of 16th - 18th February at Nottingham University.

Reports from the 4th Knowledge Lab, see: FourthKnowledgeLabReports

Click here to view the Preliminary Timetable

If you are planning to come to Knowledgelab please complete this form

What is Knowledgelab?

Knowledgelab tries to situate itself at the boundary between the University and the activist network. It is a chance for us to escape the confines of the institution, to resist its exclusivity and to challenge the hierarchical nature of a typical conference/lecture type situation. With these objectives in mind the organisation of the event is left up to (as much as possible) the participants.

'How do we know?'

The event will be split up into themed 'streams', each a set of workshops continuing throughout the day, which will run in parallel to one another. This time round we would like to open up a forum for discussion and practical investigation around the subject of knowledge itself. 'How do we know?' is the question. We hope to see workshops which address this question from all angles. Here are some ideas as to the areas of discussion which we envisage:

Media control & alternative media

Epistemology – the philosophical investigation into what 'knowledge' is and the mechanisms within which it operates

Facilitation – how can we share knowledge most effectively – practical experiments – consensus meetings etc

Human behaviour – how does knowledge and life experience affect behaviour

Knowledge in the political sphere

Ownership of knowledge – eg patents, copyright, copyleft etc

Inner knowledge, or knowledge of oneself

Internet – the world wide brain - how does this affect our learning patterns?

The climate change 'debate' – how is knowledge dealt with in this realm? – Studying the current surge in common consciousness of the situation – how can we best argue for sensible reactions to climate change? – debrief from the camp for climate action in September

Creativity – how do we optimise creative potential?

Anti-authoritarian struggles – what prospects are there for disseminating subversive knowledge? How can we optimise these?

Knowledge/dissemination of radical ideas in the arts - Interactive session on radical music – bring your favourite music to discuss its political influences and effects. – links between raising consciousness and art.

Having received a whole variety of workshop suggestions we have boiled down the structure into four main 'streams', or continuous topics of enquiry, these are:

What do we know? - Philosophical, epistemological and methodological reflections

The Worldwide Brain - Technology and internet stream

Think Again - Alternative culture, media and the arts

Global Action - What is being/can be done?

the timetable can be viewed here Preliminary Timetable

Thinking for Solutions

The unique human ability to acquire, manipulate and utilise thoughts/facts/observations/knowledge affords us great power. Where is it misused? How can this be rectified? We hope that Knowledgelab will not only be a talk-shop but will serve as a catalyst for people to devise positive, tangible solutions. Thinking means nothing without action and an emphasis on finding practical solutions will hopefully permeate the event. To this end there will be a few practical activities on the Sunday which people who are interested can get involved in. A wind-turbine building workshop will be run by V 3 power, a local group of wind turbine enthusiasts and there will be a visit to a local community organic gardening project called Ecoworks. On the Saturday we are also planning a 'Hacklab' stream - pop in and learn about Wikis, free software and net-based activism.

Get involved

In order to produce a varied and interesting programme we are still looking for people to 'adopt' workshops. Adopting a workshop can mean anything from giving a presentation to teaching people a new skill to simply addressing a question or issue which you would be interested to begin a discussion around. The emphasis is on non-hierarchical participation and open discourse but once a workshop is adopted it is up to the foster(s) to work out how it will proceed.

If you would like to adopt a workshop, or just suggest a topic which you would be interested to pursue, then please let us know prior to the event (before the 8 th February as a guide). This will allow us to draw up a time-table for the day and to circulate any readings or other material which you would like people to see before they come to Knowledgelab. We also need people to offer their help if they have experience of facilitation in consensus style meetings. (There will be workshops which concentrate on meeting styles and practical facilitation training for anyone who is interested.)


Knowledgelab will be held at the Portland Building on Nottingham University Campus. Registration will start at 9am on Saturday 17th and an introductory session will begin a 10am so those planning to travel would be advised to get to Nottingham on Friday night. If you need accommodation for either the Friday or Saturday night, or both, please get in touch as soon as you can so that we can arrange for enough space to be available. Bring a sleeping bag.

Food, provided by veggies, our local vegan catering company, will be available for all participants on Saturday and Sunday. If you are arriving on Friday evening we can also arrange dinner. The venue is fully wheelchair friendly. If you are interested but need to look after children please get in touch before coming. We will be able to set up a kids programme if there is enough interest.

Food and logistics will be our main expense and we would ask that people donate in the region of £20 waged and £5 unwaged for participation in the event. Hopefully this will cover expenses. We will update people on the progress of the financial situation on the day. There is no funding coming in for this event so we regretfully cannot offer to help people out with travel expenses. We'll be more organised next time!

Please contact Rhiannon at or Matt on for more information, to book a place at Knowledgelab or to adopt a workshop. You can also ring Matt on 07962 428 333. The timetable of workshops will be circulated at a time closer to the event.

For more info on Knowledgelab go to

Proposed Workshops

  • Theory and Practice - this will use the tension between theory and practice in academic research as an opportunity to talk about a range of issues, such as:
    • Division of labour in academic research.
    • The role of the university in relation to the state and corporations.
    • Structures of knowledge networks.
    • Ideas around objectivity - how far is this attainable and should we be trying for it anyway?
    • Relationship between academia and activist groups.
    • Hierarchical versus network based patterns of thought and language.
    • Critical Theory in an Uncritical World - Challenging discursive trappings.

The workshop participants will be asked to drop what they think they know for the duration of the workshop, so as to gain a fresh perspective through the development of real first hand experienced inner vision. (One that cannot readily be put into words). A vision that is shared by all, by being still and seeing without judgement. Adopted by Charlie

  • [Open Spaces for Dialogue and Enquiry] - ‘How do we know what we know?’: Learning to question what we think and know. Experience and learn to create a safe space for dialogue and enquiry about global issues and perspectives focusing on 1) critical literacy 2) different perspectives on knowledge 3) independent and informed thinking 4) enquiry skills.

Extended suggestion: the OSDE module on knowledge would be especially relevant here. Andy R has produced a draft OSDE module specifically for use with activists (different perspectives on activism) which might also fit in well.

  • Invisible Aesthetics - A talk about the meaning(s) of 'co-artists' (rather than artists/audience) and a look at the reasons why some artists lie about not being artists (so as to talk about artistic strategies of participation and political engagement) and/or 'Cosmopolitics' - what is 'good' science?

Adopted by Sophie Le-Phat Ho of 'Artivistic' at [[1]]

  • [SOMA workshop] - The SOMA process creates an environment in which the consensus decision making process starts in each participant’s body, mind, emotions and feelings. This approach breaks the traditional rational way to develop skills, where the mind is split from the body, the individual removed from its surroundings. SOMA games are proposals to play in a group - sharing experiences of collaboration, trust and responsibility. It’s this group dynamic created by SOMA games that stimulate the whole being to engage with the world. After the games, the participants will feedback, talking about their perceptions and behaviour playing together.

Adopted by Jorge Goia

  • Patterns - It's a complex world and our language isn't always very sensitive to that complexity. In my seminar I present a language of complexity based on 10 basic patterns or dynamic structures. A language is a theory of everything, it tells us what kinds of things we should see in the world (e.g. nouns-objects, adjectives-properties, verbs-functions). This language is no exception. But instead of an object centric view, it promotes a view of the world based on patterns. Though none of the specific patterns I present should be unfamiliar, the way they connect and grow from each other may be. Hence grasping these patterns should aid conceptualisation and problem solving. At the very least, they should add to our understanding rather than taking away.

After presenting the basic idea, I then seek discussion and criticism of the overall theory, as well as possible applications for these patterns in practical, scientific and artistic contexts. An alternative symbolic language with which to analyse the world. Adopted by Tom Cochrane

  • Deschooling Society - Based on Ivan Illich's seminal book. School teaches us to confuse process with substance. Community organisation, when not paid for by those in authority, is seen as aggressive or subversive. The poor "have always been socially powerless" and increased reliance on institutional care adds a psychological dimension to existing physical impotence. "The mere existence of school", argues Illich, "discourages and disables the poor from taking control of their own learning." In actuality, most learning happens casually and not as the "result of programmed instruction."

Adopted by Musab Younis

  • The Travelling School of Life - An introduction, networking meeting and rough history of The Travelling School of Life. A new project, TSoL aims to build a network of skill-sharing communities, located around different hubs across the world, along with travelling teams of volunteers who will get involved in local projects and practical workshops. A chance to find out more about the summer 2007 programme and get involved. Have a look at [TSoLife website]

Adopted by Jan-Hendrik Cropp

  • Affective Knowledge & Alternative Media - How do we feel when reading alternative media publications? Why do we like some publications more than others? What makes us find them inspiring or depressing, righteously angry or dreadfully boring? When does reading mobilize or motivate us to seek out more information? When does it make us feel the need to act? In this workshop I will begin with a short introduction to the concept of affect and what social movement and media analysts have said about its relation to alternative publications. After time for questions and discussion we will move to a practical writing excercise.

Adopted by Anna Feigenbaum

  • Theory and practice in the social sciences - a presentation-based discussion session led by Andy R, based on a 20-minute lecture-style presentation followed by discussion. The paper summarises critiques of positivist approaches and explores perspectives on activist and critical research - how a researcher can avoid the "repressive reduction of thought to the present", and how certain approaches to research encourage this reduction.

Adopted by Andy R

  • Oppressive discourse and Barthesian myths - another presentation-led session, again with a 15-20 minute lecture-style introduction, this time followed by small group work applying a critical approach which has been introduced. The introduction will summarise oppressive forms of discourse including Roland Barthes's concept of myth, locating this analysis in relation to the critique of militarist discourse in the "war on terror". The subsequent exercise will involve identifying myths and other oppressive forms of discourse in media material.

Adopted by Andy R

  • Critique of common sense - yet another session taking the form of a presentation followed by small-group work, this session would focus on Gramsci's critique of common sense. The presentation would summarise Gramsci's use of this concept, and the subsequent exercise would involve applying this approach to media material, looking at the ways in which dominant assumptions have been naturalised.

Adopted by Andy R

  • [Critical literacy and critical reading] - an open discussion session using something similar to the OSDE format, looking at whether we as activists have attained "critical literacy", and what impact it has on our activities whether we have or not. Topics for discussion could include the relationship between critical literacy and indigenous perspectives, tacit knowledge, hidden transcripts, working-class culture, colonialism / epistemological privilege, and the ways people go about doing "outreach" or interacting with others. Optionally, the article "Give Up Activism" could also be used as a stimulus in this session.

Adopted by Andy R unless someone else volunteers

  • [Structural differential] - this session would explore perspective relativity through an open-ended discussion around the model of the structural differential, a teaching tool developed by Alfred Korzybski to model the relationship between perspectives and the world. Discussion would be encouraged of ways in which things we think, or which people in general often think, might be problematic in terms of this model, or be "partial" forms of knowledge rather than complete knowledge.

Adopted by Andy R unless someone else volunteers

  • [Psychology of] [memory and perception] - this session would run several classic psychological experiments which are revealing in terms of the nature of knowledge. Rather than "teaching" the experiments, the session would provide an active knowledge through participation. Participants would be shown how their own memories and perceptions are affected by their perspective and assumptions. Bartlett's "War of the Ghosts" experiment, Carmichael's memory/perception study and if practical Asch's conformity study (see links or google them for details) might be useful tools.

Adopted by Andy R unless someone else volunteers

  • Film: "What the Bleep Do We Know?"

The film uses quantum physics and New Age theory to break down assumptions about what "we" "know".

  • Role-play exercise based on a university classroom. Each participant would choose or randomly select a "role" which specifies their motivations and goals; the result should be something approximating to a simulation of a class... the purpose of the exercise being to reveal the way in which role-playing affects the experience of university.

Adopted by Andy R unless someone else volunteers.

  • knowledge: for what, who for? how shall we know?

Brief description: this could/would be about what kind of knowledges to we need? a mainstream notion of this would be "strategic knowledge production". i guess, we could problematise the role of think tanks. the purpose of the workshop could be to suggest to people occupied with knowledge production how they can help social movements (and less the state) with their studies/work. this would probably involve to think through how/whether academia can produce antihierarchical knowledges. for this workshop i could introduce some ideas, which started me thinking about these questions Time needed: 2 times 1h30m (1h30m for discussion, debate.... and 1h30m for creating some product(s) to share our ideas To Read: autonomous knowledge and power in a society without affects